Taking steps now can ensure that the herd will be in the best possible position for mating.

"What ... mating's just around the corner - you've gotta be joking?"

Since my last column the recurring theme has been the wet weather. It's hard to even imagine that mating starts in just over six weeks for many farmers in the Bay of Plenty area.

Taking steps now can ensure the herd will be in the best possible position for mating. Last year the mating statistics took a step backwards.

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The six week in-calf rate has dropped from 66 per cent in 2014/15 to 63 per cent in 16/17 (source LIC), this is a far cry from the industry target of 78 per cent.

This is reflected in the slower calving rate most farms are getting this spring and will flow on to fewer days in milk before Christmas.

Refreshing your farm's reproduction plan for this season to maximise the number of cows cycling before the mating season starts will help focus efforts to improve reproduction performance.

All plans should include - staff training/refreshment, ensuring cows are healthy, planning for any non-cycling treatment programmes, checking facilities are up to standard and making sure you have the right number, type, and age of bulls available after the AB period.

Yearlings should be included in the programme, even though they are often not on the home farm. Achieving high reproductive performance is a 12 month process so including body condition score targets and a pregnancy testing programme will round out the programme and enable you to set targets.

Reproduction field days are starting in Te Puke on August 24. Check the DairyNZ website events page for times and dates in other areas.